How to Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder

When the winter season comes, you know it’s the time when days are shorter and nights are longer. That means less exposure to sunlight. Dropping temperatures force many people to switch to electric blankets or even travel to places with warmer climes. This is the time when the blues are inevitable. And if you’re like the 10 million Americans with seasonal affective disorder, the winter months can be the most difficult times for you. If you experience severe symptoms such as decreased energy, difficulties in getting sleep, weight gain, increased appetite, or cravings for carbs during the winter months, then you could be having seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder. Hence you need to pay attention to this article. Seasonal affective disorder can be alleviated Don’t worry because it’s normal to experience the winter blues and as long as you know how to manage the conditions, you can go through the winter months without a problem. As authors from college essay writing service say, there are multiple ways to fight the seasonal affective disorder. First, you need to know that SAD is a mental health condition and not the winter blues you’re used to. And if the symptoms of depression recur each year, then you need to find ways on how to combat them. The good news is that there are many ways to fight seasonal depression. You can use conventional treatment methods such as taking antidepressants and many other medications or use natural remedies such as exercising, sunbathing, etc. In this article, you’re going to learn how to fight seasonal affective disorder. So if you have been asking “what is the best treatment for seasonal affective disorder?” then this article is for you. So without further ado, let’s dive in. What is seasonal affective disorder Seasonal affective disorder, also known as seasonal depression or SAD is a form of depression that generally happens during the fall or winter months when there is less sunlight and disappears in the spring or summer months. In the United States, SAD happens during January and February. As mentioned at best dissertation writing service the condition begins and ends almost the same times each year. Often, people with SAD experience symptoms of depression. Some people can also have seasonal depression in the summer months, although this is less common. Different people will have varied symptoms with some patients having milder symptoms whereas others will have severe symptoms of depression. Sometimes the symptoms of SAD can be distressing and overwhelming. In fact, for some people, the symptoms can affect their daily functioning. The good news is that seasonal affective disorder can be relieved in different ways as you will see below. What are the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? As stated above, SAD, otherwise known as seasonal depression has most of the signs of depression such as: Anxiety; Irritability; Sadness; Lack of concentrations; Decreased energy; Sleeping too much or experiencing insomnia; Feeling worthlessness; Increased appetite for carbohydrates; Extreme fatigue; Lack of interest in sex and social activities; Thoughts of suicide; What causes seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? While it is not clear what exactly causes SAD, decreased exposure to sunlight may cause this condition especially to people who are always exposed to sunlight. According to essay writing service, there a lot of theories around what causes seasonal affective disorder. Some suggest that it’s caused by a biological clock change. This theory suggests that when a person gets less sunlight, their biological clock changes thus making it difficult for some people to regulate their moods. Researchers also argue that SAD is caused by brain chemical imbalance. Often, the brain contains chemicals (serotine) known as neurotransmitters that transfer communications to and from nerves. Serotine triggers feelings of happiness. People with SAD have decreased serotine activity. When serotine levels fall further, one may start to have serious mood changes. Vitamin D deficiency is also another cause of seasonal affective disorder. As people spend more time without sunlight, the production of vitamin D decreases hence affecting serotine production and mood. Lack of sunlight is also said to trigger the production of melatonin in huge quantities hence affecting one’s sleep patterns. This causes some people to feel sluggish and sleepy during the winter months. Risk factors for developing sad Below are some of the factors that can put a person at risk of developing seasonal affective disorder. Family history- You’re at risk of developing seasonal depression if one of your blood relatives has SAD or another form of depression. Sex- Women are at risk of experiencing seasonal affective depression than men. This is evident by a study that suggests that women are four times more likely to be diagnosed with SAD than men. Personal hist

How to Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder

When the winter season comes, you know it’s the time when days are shorter and nights are longer. That means less exposure to sunlight.

Dropping temperatures force many people to switch to electric blankets or even travel to places with warmer climes.

This is the time when the blues are inevitable.

And if you’re like the 10 million Americans with seasonal affective disorder, the winter months can be the most difficult times for you.

If you experience severe symptoms such as decreased energy, difficulties in getting sleep, weight gain, increased appetite, or cravings for carbs during the winter months, then you could be having seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder.

Hence you need to pay attention to this article.

Seasonal affective disorder can be alleviated

Don’t worry because it’s normal to experience the winter blues and as long as you know how to manage the conditions, you can go through the winter months without a problem.

As authors from college essay writing service say, there are multiple ways to fight the seasonal affective disorder.

First, you need to know that SAD is a mental health condition and not the winter blues you’re used to.

And if the symptoms of depression recur each year, then you need to find ways on how to combat them.

The good news is that there are many ways to fight seasonal depression.

You can use conventional treatment methods such as taking antidepressants and many other medications or use natural remedies such as exercising, sunbathing, etc.

In this article, you’re going to learn how to fight seasonal affective disorder.

So if you have been asking “what is the best treatment for seasonal affective disorder?” then this article is for you.

So without further ado, let’s dive in.

What is seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as seasonal depression or SAD is a form of depression that generally happens during the fall or winter months when there is less sunlight and disappears in the spring or summer months.

In the United States, SAD happens during January and February.

As mentioned at best dissertation writing service the condition begins and ends almost the same times each year.

Often, people with SAD experience symptoms of depression.

Some people can also have seasonal depression in the summer months, although this is less common.

Different people will have varied symptoms with some patients having milder symptoms whereas others will have severe symptoms of depression.

Sometimes the symptoms of SAD can be distressing and overwhelming. In fact, for some people, the symptoms can affect their daily functioning.

The good news is that seasonal affective disorder can be relieved in different ways as you will see below.

What are the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

As stated above, SAD, otherwise known as seasonal depression has most of the signs of depression such as:

  • Anxiety;
  • Irritability;
  • Sadness;
  • Lack of concentrations;
  • Decreased energy;
  • Sleeping too much or experiencing insomnia;
  • Feeling worthlessness;
  • Increased appetite for carbohydrates;
  • Extreme fatigue;
  • Lack of interest in sex and social activities;
  • Thoughts of suicide;

What causes seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

While it is not clear what exactly causes SAD, decreased exposure to sunlight may cause this condition especially to people who are always exposed to sunlight.

According to essay writing service, there a lot of theories around what causes seasonal affective disorder.

Some suggest that it’s caused by a biological clock change.

This theory suggests that when a person gets less sunlight, their biological clock changes thus making it difficult for some people to regulate their moods.

Researchers also argue that SAD is caused by brain chemical imbalance.

Often, the brain contains chemicals (serotine) known as neurotransmitters that transfer communications to and from nerves.

Serotine triggers feelings of happiness.

People with SAD have decreased serotine activity.

When serotine levels fall further, one may start to have serious mood changes.

Vitamin D deficiency is also another cause of seasonal affective disorder.

As people spend more time without sunlight, the production of vitamin D decreases hence affecting serotine production and mood.

Lack of sunlight is also said to trigger the production of melatonin in huge quantities hence affecting one’s sleep patterns.

This causes some people to feel sluggish and sleepy during the winter months.

Risk factors for developing sad

Below are some of the factors that can put a person at risk of developing seasonal affective disorder.

Family history- You’re at risk of developing seasonal depression if one of your blood relatives has SAD or another form of depression.

Sex- Women are at risk of experiencing seasonal affective depression than men. This is evident by a study that suggests that women are four times more likely to be diagnosed with SAD than men.

Personal history of depression- A person is also at risk of developing SAD if they have a history of depression or bipolar disorder.

Geography- Researchers argue that people who live far from the equator have a higher risk of developing seasonal depression.

How many people are affected by SAD?

Not all people develop SAD. However, approximately 5% of the population is affected by seasonal depression at certain times of the year. According to statistics, around 10 million Americans have it currently.

Often, SAD is much prevalent in people who live at least 30 degrees latitude north or south of the equator.

For instance, people who live in the northern regions of Florida, Egypt, Austin, Cairo, and China as well as those living in the south of Australia, South Africa, Cordoba, and Texas, are vulnerable to developing SAD.

Who is at the highest risk for developing SAD?

Even though multiple studies have established that women of childbearing age are at risk of developing SAD, the condition is not age- or gender-specific. SAD is rare to happen in people under 20 years though.

At what point should consult see your doctor?

It’s possible to experience the winter blues for a long period before you identify the seasonal pattern.

Besides, it’s normal to feel down on some days.

In fact, if you cannot decode the feeling better, you can ignore it for several months; however, it can make you less functional.

If you feel down for a long period at the same time in a year where you can’t get motivated to do anything you normally enjoy, consult with your doctor.

This is especially important if you experience severe sleep patterns, increased or decreased appetite, and other symptoms we mentioned earlier then see your doctor.

COVID-19 and seasonal affective disorder

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that the symptoms of anxiety and depression have increased among American adults during the COVID-19 times.

Researchers have also reported increased cases of seasonal affective disorder as people are forced to stay indoors hence there is no socialization.

The pandemic is no doubt another risk factor for developing SAD.

Job loss, reduced social interaction could lead to increased symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Can you prevent seasonal depression?

Even though you can identify the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder preventing it isn’t as easy as you may think. SAD is a mental-health-related disorder.

There is also little research as to whether one can start light therapy early to stop SAD before the condition worsens.

Well, of course, some studies suggest that using antidepressant bupropion XL could help prevent seasonal depression but this preventing measure isn’t without its side effects such as nausea, headaches, etc.

Ways to Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder

There is a ton of strategies to fight seasonal depression out there.

Some involve the use of medication while some are natural.

Below, we discuss both artificial and natural methods to manage SAD.

Socialize with others

Loneliness and isolation can bring depression thus worsening the effects of SAD.

To manage symptoms of seasonal disorder, experts recommend creating social situations.

This could involve interacting with family members or friends.

When you interact with others, your spirit is lifted.

The idea is to focus your attention and thoughts on something else and not on yourself.

You could invite friends or colleagues into your home to uplift your motivation.

Due to the pandemic, it’s advised to engage in social activities virtually.

This could involve using tools that facilitate virtual interactions such as making video calls on WhatsApp or Facebook, etc.

Spend some time outdoors

Spending some time outdoors could help in many ways:

First, you’ll get exposed to the sunlight.

Remember that even the little sunlight you get in winter can boost serotine levels and improve your mood.

Secondly, you’ll absorb some feel-good light.

The good thing is that you don’t have to spend the whole day outdoors.

You could take a short walk outdoors for at least 30 minutes or drink your cup of coffee outside.

You could also let in sunlight if you spend more time indoors. Some people have also reported fighting SAD by painting their walls in lighter colors.

Manage stress

Too much stress can worsen the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

So, you need to find ways of reducing your stress levels.

To combat stress, you need to identify the cause.

Do you have work overload? Or is your relationship the cause of your stress?

If so, find ways of making things work in a less stressful way.

When it comes to stress management, you just need to do what makes you feel relaxed.

Some of the relaxation techniques include yoga, mindfulness, exercising, or taking short walks outside.

All these stress management techniques help to reduce negative emotions like fear, anger and can boost your happiness.

You could also do something you enjoy every morning.

It’s normal to feel like you don’t want to do anything but when it comes to alleviating stress, try as much as you can to push yourself to do something that helps kick stress away.

Play piano, paint your house, have fun with friends, etc. All these are stress busters.

Exercise regularly

Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.’ – Carol Welch

Regular exercise provides a ton of health benefits.

It helps to prevent heart, metabolic, joint, and muscle-bone problems.

Regular exercise can provide a myriad of benefits than medication.

Studies suggest that exercising daily boosts the production of serotonin and other feel-good hormones in the brain.

That’s why it’s one of the powerful ways to fight seasonal affective disorder, particularly when done outdoors.

Exercise is said to be an effective antidepressant medication when it comes to alleviating mild to moderate depression.

When you exercise, you also boost your sleep quality and self-esteem.

You just need to do rhythmic and continuous exercises such as weight training, dancing while moving your legs and arms, etc.

It’s also important to observe the timing of exercise if you are having seasonal depression.

Avoid exercising at night because it could disturb the production of melatonin hence causing sleep problems the following night.

Spend at least 40 minutes exercising every day.

Reduce your carbs intake

Eating foods that contain too much carbs and comfort food such as bread, candy, cakes could lead to fatigue and weight gain.

Take protein-rich meals, especially in the morning and afternoon.

For your breakfast, you could substitute cereal with an omelet. Then eat a chicken Caesar salad without croutons instead of a sandwich at lunch.

Experts have also found complex carbs to be helpful when it comes to fighting SAD.

For instance, eating grains and beans could boost your serotonin production.

Listen to your favorite music

Music is heart-soothing and can uplift your spirit.

Research suggests that music can be a treatment for SAD, particularly for older adults.

Some studies suggest that music can help older adults around 65 years to express negative emotions thus reducing symptoms of depression.

In a survey that involved 47 elderly people in Hong Kong, older adults who used music therapy for one month reported decreased depression, respiratory rate, and blood pressure levels.

Help others

Research has shown that volunteering not only helps communities but helping others could help to boost mental health.

Often, when we help others, we’re not only benefiting them but we’re also making ourselves feel better.

Volunteering is therefore one of the effective strategies to fight seasonal disorder.

Travel to areas with warmer climates

Taking a vacation especially to places with warmer climates can also help to manage SAD.

Traveling has a myriad of benefits.

It can give you a break from your daily routine, run away from cold skies and it can help to uplift your spirits and fight winter depression.

Keep your vitamin D levels on check

Some studies have linked seasonal affective disorder to decreased vitamin D levels.

Unfortunately, around 42% of Americans have vitamin D deficiency.

Thankfully, everyone can get vitamin D from sunlight or by taking certain foods like mushrooms, fatty fish, and many more.

People with SAD have been found to lack vitamin D which can worsen symptoms of depression.

To fight vitamin D deficiency, people with SAD can spend at least 30 minutes every day outdoors or take a vacation to sunny climates before the onset of the winter months.

Taking vitamin D supplements could also help to fight symptoms of depression as well.

Eat a well-balanced diet

Eating a well-balanced diet can help you reduce the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day to boost your energy and reduce mood swings.

People with SAD should avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and many other drinks that could bring severe mood changes.

Also, to alleviate symptoms of seasonal depression, patients are advised to avoid processed foods as they lack essential nutrients such as folate.

Researchers have found out that the symptoms of SAD can increase the appetite for sugary food and simple carbs like white bread and many others.

Substitute simple carbs with complex carbohydrates like whole-grain bread to increase the production of serotonin in your brain.

Practice healthy sleeping habits

Even though the symptoms associated with SAD cause one to spend more time in bed, people with seasonal affective disorder don’t always get restful sleep.

You need to practice healthy sleeping habits such as avoiding TV or keeping away electronic gadgets before bedtime.

Try light therapy

As stated earlier, SAD happens during the winter months as days are shorter than nights.

That means that people don’t get enough sunlight.

People with SAD can therefore use light therapy to substitute for the lack of sunshine.

Typically, light therapy involves using artificial sunlight.

Multiple studies suggest that exposure to simulated sunlight can help to alleviate symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

A lightbox is said to be an effective source of artificial light as it provides around 10,000 lux of light while blocking exposure to UV rays.

Using a lightbox for at least 20 to 60 minutes per day could help to reduce the symptoms of depression.

Patients could also use a light therapy lamp as well, but you need to consult your doctor before using one because different lamps have different brightness levels.

Try antidepressants

If none of the above methods to fight SAD works, you can try prescription antidepressants.

Remember that, even though they may help to fight seasonal depression, some medications can cause severe side effects.

For instance, some prescription medicines can make you sleepy.

That’s why it’s important to consult your doctor before you take any of the available antidepressants so you can know which medication is better for your SAD symptoms.

Some of the recommended antidepressants include paroxetine, fluoxetine, sertraline, escitalopram, citalopram, etc.

Use cold-weather accessories that keep you warm

Even though there are things that can cause serious mood swings, the cold associated with winter climates can worsen the situation.

During the winter months, you’re going to spend many months without sunlight or natural heat.

So you want to get some accessories that can keep you warm throughout the entire season.

You can stock some pairs of Smartwool gloves, fuzzy socks, and a huge collection of blankets.

Try scented Epsom salts

People with SAD are said to experience feelings of worthlessness. One of the effective ways to boost your mood and soothe your body is to sit in an Epsom salt bath, especially one that produces a citrus scent.

The good thing is that Epsom salts aren’t costly and can last.

Do some gardening

When the lows hit you, you can uplift the vibes by taking care of your houseplants. Multiple studies suggest that gardening can help to reduce symptoms of depression.

Spend some time watering your houseplants.

Fight seasonal affective disorder with meditation

“Meditation is like a gym in which you develop the powerful mental muscles of calm and insight.”– Ajahn Brahm

Multiple studies have linked meditation to improved emotional health. It’s a powerful mind practice that could help you manage SAD.

Spend a few minutes every day meditating during the winter months to boost your mental health.

Get some cognitive behavioral therapy

You can also consider consulting a therapist.

Having talk therapy could help you know how to cope during challenging times.

You’ll need to combine talk therapy with other SAD treatment methods like antidepressants or light therapy for efficiency.

Mind the type of news you consume

The news you consume can make or break your mood.

If you already have SAD, you need to avoid any situation that could trigger stress and anxiety.

Some news we consume could ruin our mood.

Experts recommend limiting your exposure to news if you’re battling seasonal affective disorder.

Important Points About Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • SAD otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder or winter depression is a form of depression that happens during the winter months.
  • The causes of SAD are still unclear but researchers have linked less exposure to sunlight and shorter days to a chemical change in the brain that could trigger the condition. Some studies have also found low levels of melatonin to be a possible cause of SAD.
  • People with SAD have constant feelings of hopelessness, irritability, sadness, and helplessness.

To fight seasonal affective disorder, you need to practice the following:

  • Socialize with others
  • Spend some time outdoors
  • Manage stress
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce your carbs intake
  • Listen to your favorite music
  • Help others
  • Travel to areas with warmer climates
  • Keep your vitamin d levels on check
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Practice healthy sleeping habits
  • Try light therapy
  • Try antidepressants
  • Use cold-weather accessories that keep you warm
  • Try scented Epsom salts
  • Do some gardening
  • Meditate
  • Mind the type of news you consume
  • Get some cognitive behavioral therapy

Takeaway

What is the best treatment for seasonal affective disorder according to you? Or what do you do to keep yourself in the mood during the winter months?

As you can see, there are multiple ways to ease seasonal depression symptoms out there. However, not all can work for everyone.

Share with us your techniques for managing SAD in the comment section.